More Post Election Analysis

Let’s talk about manipulation and perception or better yet – manipulating perception. If you were going to plan it, the first thing you want to do to get elected to a position of authority is to get yourself on some committees and boards. The more you look like you’re involved the better. Your community support can’t be disputed if you’ve “served” again and again. To cast a favorable light on your character – sign up to be a lunch buddy or a reading buddy at your local elementary school. Of course that’s the perception you want to create. Also, joining boards and committees garners support from these entities when the time comes to make your move, so you’ll want to plan a couple of years in advance to be taken seriously.

Motive? – to move up the authority ladder.
Purpose? – to gain power, influence and notoriety – you get to make the decisions.
Outcome? – gain public trust.

I’ve heard a general statement from a couple of individuals – the Brown’s do or have done a lot for the community. I just read this in an article written by Tran, titled “On Mike Gunter and the Silent Majority. The history of Brown vs Gunter”  What have the Brown’s actually done for the community? Can anybody give me some specifics that can’t be seen as propelling their stead in the community for the benefit of themselves, friends and family members?

Gunter ran against a coalition, not Brown

I understood they (Brown’s, along with their cohorts) built an alliance to promote their agenda, they organized a whole coalition to gain the majority vote for their agenda, I’m pretty sure one thing on their agenda was to get Guetschow elected (both times), as was Michigan Main Street. How else would you characterize a seemingly constant reincarnation of one committee that had an equal number of shifts in focus? Namely (pun intended);

  1. Infrastructure and Sustainability Committee
  2. Friends of Historic Blissfield
  3. Blissfield Community Development Committee
  4. Area Blissfield Community Development Committee
  5. Revitalization Committee
  6. Economic Development Committee
  7. Community Service Committee
  8. A.B.C.D Committee

I don’t know whether to include the defunct Chamber of Commerce and “Blissfield Center for the Arts” or not. Was the network controlling/trying to control these as well and worked their extinction magic? It’s no secret Kay wanted Blissfield to wake up one day and be an “Art Town”. You can bet if Kay Brown is involved then George Brown is right there supporting or directing her actions. Not that I’ve got anything against art or artists, I appreciate art, I’m artistic and creative. It’s just not something you can or should force.

This is an opportunity to point out Kay Brown’s and Andrea Cueto’s bits written in the advance just prior to the election. While they painted their network cabal as innocently baking cookies and planting flowers they also proudly admitted to serving food at their meetings. Serving food at meetings that were “open to the public” as they have written, is entirely against the law without permits. The same laws they have disregarded time and time again. Even after they were approached and reprimanded by the Lenawee County Department of Health, they claimed and defended their actions in the paper. I don’t know what the rest of Blissfield thinks, I’m pretty nervous about a group that thinks they’re above the law.

We don’t need more laws or for the existing laws to be better defined. Everyday American people need to start pushing for their rights and demand enforcement. Legislators and 
leaders should be held to higher standards, not lower ones. When guilty parties minimize their crimes or deny them publicly; they should be punished for deliberately misleading the public too. Zero tolerance for corruption, that’s what I call standing up.

The Silent Majority

In his article, Tran couldn’t grasp the concept of a ‘silent majority’. The silent majority was a sleeping giant that awoke and spoke out en mass as the Tea Party on a national level. The silent majority is still alive and well in Blissfield. A majority that doesn’t often voice their opinion publicly doesn’t mean they’re void of opinions.  Alternatively, someone standing up against a network or against what they believe is wrong shouldn’t be ridiculed as a squeaky wheel or as Kay Brown’s chosen phrase – an empty can makes the most noise (lovingly derived from caring for our elderly). Ridicule and opinion, that sounds like another post – later. Anyway, gee Tran – only two choices – and they happen to be on opposite ends of the spectrum to each other. You’re either a squeaky wheel or you’re a silent majority, there’s nothing in between?

The overwhelming majority who attends council meetings is the ‘network’, knowing this – how democratic is it to take a vote by a show of hands at a council meeting? Or even select councilmen (including Brown) attempt to portray me as “much ado about nothing” at the open hearing about 5 grants – how representative is it to ask if anybody else from the audience has applied for and been turned down for a grant (as if all business owners where in the room)? Although, Tran misreported this, he claimed in the paper that nobody raised their hand. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and emailed him with a chance to correct himself. He had the tape, he was at the meeting, he had the memory refresh – someone did raise their hand and even walked to the podium and spoke. Tran chose the perception he was going to leave the readers with; he did nothing further to correct it.

According to Tran,

“The Browns are good people who’ve taken a lot of silly abuse from people who are quick to sling mud and innuendo. Gunter and the Browns have a long history of selfless public service.”

Is Tran intimating I, or anybody else that have taken issue with Brown behavior has been fooling themselves about the difference between Gunter’s selfless service and the Brown’s self-service?

Were the frowns I met really just smiles turned upside down?

I may have deserved everything I got from the group. After all, I did go to meetings offering a conservative perspective about self-sufficiency, making their events more productive and prompting discussion about other issues. I can see why they were so taken aback and took such drastic measures to oust me. I don’t know what their narrative of the story is but I’m pretty much betting it doesn’t sound anything like that.

I guess what Tran is really saying, just like his ghosts that don’t exist;

The 5 grants were a figment of an over active imagination. I’ve wasted all this time and effort to stand up against a phantom menace to society. I’ve been trying to motivate a community to attend council meetings and witness for themselves that everything is proper and perfectly blissful in Blissfield. I also never identified any misbehavior that should be condemned, I really only hinted that something might be amiss and directed it willy-nilly at the Brown’s for no apparent reason.

This would also mean there’s absolutely no possibility that Tran was befriended by the Browns for any other purpose than to give him fudge, flowers and hugs. There’s probably no mutual benefit for an alliance between councilmembers (and their cabals) and our local newspaper.

That could be it, or…

If alternate realities are what we’re looking at. Instead of a cabal protecting an unsavory scheme against myself and the community, another near perfect alternate 
explanation would be that I simply encountered a highly disorganized group, composed of really stupid individuals that didn’t have a clue how to get something done or what working with other people even looked like. They could have perhaps just had some dumb luck.

What was it, really stupid or scheming?

The only fantasy part here was my assumption the “F” group was a community driven group to better Blissfield and encourage community pride and participation. This is me – refusing to stick my head in the sand and pretend all is well and believe something just because they say it’s so. I instead, watch what they do.

And…

If our local paper cannot deliver impartial news, they are in violation of the intent of our Constitution. They were granted “Freedom of the Press” because they were supposed to be the watchdogs for the people as oversight on the government. Our local paper has been biased through alliances and has been feeding us fiction with our weekly news. Although not required to do their job properly, we are left with the task of disseminating the ambiguity for the purpose of separating the facts from opinion.

Manipulating perception = deception.

Photographer: Salvatore Vuono

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10 Responses to More Post Election Analysis

  1. concern citizen says:

    Another good post !!!

    • Robin says:

      Concern – your words are few with much impact, they are always appreciated!

      I’ve noticed something else that you may have noticed too. Tran’s bias can be witnessed through a 90% more coverage about the Brown’s business than any other business in Blissfield, new or not. He’s put out a 9:38 video and huge spreads in the paper and numerous mentions on line. It’s pretty safe to assume that the editor is in the pocket or Brown-nosing!

  2. Tran says:

    Did you just accuse me of having some unholy alliance with the Blissfield cabal?

    Lordy.

    There are a lot of people in Blissfield I disagreed with in my five years on the job. But for the most part, I still respect them, because I felt they thought they were doing the right thing. There are still people in this country who can disagree and be respectful.

    But you? When you make up pure lies and print it as truth on this blog, I’m pretty sure you know you’re not doing the right thing. Either that, or you’re just a stone cold sociopath.

    If you’re accusing me of being biased in favor of Jae Guetschow and George and Kay Brown, maybe you should go ask them what they think of me. My guess is that they’d have as many words for you as they would for me, which is none. Because Guetschow wrote a letter to my boss accusing me of being biased against him. And Guetschow refused to answer my questions in his final meeting, and chose to publish his thank you letter in the Telegram. And the Browns were unhappy with me when we would not remove their names from a question we asked in the election campaign.

    Like any propagandist, you throw around this ridiculous words like cabal and alliance. Then, despite having no facts, you make the baseless allegation that the newspaper was in cahoots with Guetschow and Brown, in some grand conspiracy.

    What you wrote The Advance’s relationship with the Browns and Guetschow is not the truth. Not even close.

    It’s pretty irresponsible, actually.

    • Robin says:

      Tran, I didn’t accuse you of having an unholy alliance with the cabal. The post was about manipulating perception. Leaving the readers with a specific perception is manipulating the truth (I provided an instance). I accused you of being biased about the Browns and provided instances regarding your bias.

      If you didn’t print the names of the hosts that were holding illegal meetings, that would have made you look totally inept and blatantly evasive. You chose correctly; most people know the Browns were holding the meetings.

      Why do you think the Browns were unwilling to be forthcoming?

      “I still respect them, because I felt they thought they were doing the right thing.” -Are you saying you overlooked behavior because you agreed it was good or there was some fragment of good, or you thought you saw good? I feel you felt what they wanted you to feel. I think they were predators and you were unwittingly, the prey.

      If you’re as oblivious as you claim, what makes you qualified to detect lies I’ve written? I think you should list the pure lies I’ve made up and printed it as truth on this blog. I’ve noticed that whenever somebody doesn’t have an argument or they don’t have any facts to support their argument they just make generalized statements.

  3. Tran says:

    I’m not going to get into one of those silly Internet arguments, where people go post-for-post, and tit-for-tat, taking silly things out of context.

    I had concerns about the way a lot of things were done. But it isn’t my job to have an opinion and then go write stories to back my opinion up.
    I think there are real sort of church-and-state lines being crossed all the time with the DDA and private business, and there have been since before I came here, when the DDA and chamber shared a director. Even now, there is no chamber of commerce because everyone wants to focus on Main Street. So, in essence, we’ve got government doing the job because private business won’t, or doesn’t have to, because the DDA/Main Street is on the case.
    Yes, that’s an issue. And yes, that was covered in one of the original stories we wrote on Main Street.
    Going back to Frank Baker’s theory on the chamber of commerce committee structure, it was clear to me then that there were simply not enough active people in Blissfield to sustain that kind of movement.
    But it’s not my job to be the “No You Can’t” guy.
    I didn’t think Blissfield needed a Main Street program. I’ve seen villages with more resources and the ability to have a budget and a director say “no thanks?
    I supported the US 223 corridor project in principle, but not in practice because I felt it was consultant-driven, and not Blissfield-driven.
    I had big concerns about council conducting the entire Home Canning disucssion behind closed doors and never, ever revealing to the public what sort of deliberations took place on the way to the decision.
    I believed the decision to have private partners was a bad one. If the village couldn’t afford that extra $100,000 kicked in by private investors, then maybe this project isn’t worth it. I happen to believe it is worth the extra $100,000, and that the decision to include private investors was likely a compromise in order to convince certain council members worried about the cost to change their vote.
    I believed council it was unwise to ask certain people to invest in a project, but not others, if for no other reason than you’re creating the perception that council is handpicking winners.
    I believed that it was incredible risky to include the railroad in the project, given the village’s past legal history with the railroad.
    I believed it was incredibly dumb to allow George Brown to be a part of the project. Again, you’re waving a red flag at the public and daring people to call them corrupt.
    Why would you do that to your big project? A project, that I believe, is probably very important and likely going to have a big impact on the future of the village.
    A lot of these questions might have been answered, but council chose to do the whole thing in private. Which again, waves a red flag to anyone paying attention.

    My chief criticism of George and Kay Brown and Jae Guetschow is that they were unable to handle criticism. So when your blog showed up, they completely freaked out. Suddenly, their righteousness seemed multiplied by your criticisms. And the more vicious your criticism, the more righteous and erratic they became.

    It was really quite the dance.

    By about August, there seemed to be two narratives to every story. I was at a DDA meeting where George Brown offered to let an out-of-town Main Street director applicant stay at his house. Brown said he wanted to do what he could so that the village could be sure they would get the best candidate for the job. But the moment he said it, I saw the Soff narrative in my head: Brown is just trying to sink his teeth into the Main Street director to maintain control of Main Street.

    For the record, I have no doubt in my mind, even after all the recent council hijinx, that Brown was doing what he thought was helpful and best for Blissfield.

    I thought Guetschow badly misplayed the Sessions hiring and then really blew it down the election stretch.

    For one, the DDA and Guetschow completely were caught by surprise by the revelations. So, too, was I. Even though I read his Wikipedia page containing reference to the incident. So I informed Guetschow when I discovered it on your blog.

    I believed the village should have a chance to reconsider the hiring before the new guy out to the public. Now, that’s kind of a tricky thing for me. Because I could just report it, and leave everyone with egg on their face. But Blissfield needs more egg on its face like I need more donuts.

    So I informed Lynn and Jae, and apparently they’d already heard.
    But they did not want to reconsider. They were sticking to their guns. They did not want to further investigate. They extent of the investigation was to hold a special meeting and have Sessions talk about it.
    “There you have it,” the said. “Are you going to believe him? Or Soff’s blog.”
    That was the essential purpose of the meeting.
    Guetschow blew it off as Internet innuendo, which made was ridiculous, because it wasn’t. It was a story from the freakin’ Toledo Blade.

    The smart thing to do, getting the chance to potentially save yourself from an embarrassing hiring, would have been to call people in Hillsdale and just make sure that there weren’t going to be a bunch of problems. But that would have been admitting they might have been wrong.

    There’s that righteousness I was alluding to.

    And then Guetschow really stepped in it with his performance at the council meeting where the council approved the concept of tax breaks for rental rehab projects. That discussion was going nowhere at the council table. Nowhere. Nobody said a peep. And Guetschow, who probably should have stepped away from the council all together for the issue and taken a seat in the audience, kept pushing the rock up the mountain, until finally he got his motion.

    Then, he didn’t vote, based on a conflict of interest. Scott Abbott’s letter in the Advance said what nearly everyone who reads the paper must have been thinking.

    Even at the most recent council meeting, Guetschow, asking to be appointed to the DDA, put his righteousness on display, asking that council affirm, when it voted on whether to appoint him, that he didn’t misuse the power of his presidency to win a tax break for his wife.
    Council should have voted no to appointing him to the DDA based on his request for council to consider anything more whether or not he’s suitable to be on DDA. But council wants to move on.

    And then came the Cueto/Brown meltdown at that same meeting. Mike Gunter was going to appoint Cueto. He told me as much before and after the meeting. But he believed Burgermeister had a valid point. Council should jointly determine a process for appointing a new council member before it actually appoints one.

    I really don’t know how Mike Gunter will do as village president, especially given the current atmosphere. But I believe Mike will try to do what he thinks is right. And I also think he’s a bit more savvy about understanding the role of a council member and of doing things above board in a manner that respects the importance of public perception.

    I know Gunter and the Browns haven’t gotten along very well in recent years. And I can understand Gunter’s frustrations, because on some of those issues, I felt as frustrated covering issues as he did trying to move forward with them.

    But you can’t blame the Browns for organizing groups, having ideas and working toward their goals. You can’t blame them for being pushy. Obstructionists are useless. At some point, the people who oppose the Browns need to offer an alternative vision and then use the system to achieve their goals. There needs to be a debate of ideas and principles and a lot less namecalling and personal attacks. So in this sense, I have respect for the Browns and Guetschow because they are fulfilling their democratic obligation.

    But after the last six to eight weeks, I’m not so sure that’s even true anymore.

    Anyway, the next Blissfield reporter has a lot of learning to do, and I encourage people with ideas to call the person, explain the backgrounds, the faultlines, the history, and the goals. One thing I was shocked by was how rarely local politicos called the newspaper to provide tips, share news, explain agendas, yada yada yada.

    • Robin says:

      I’m guessing the local politico did not share enough information with you because there is retribution associated with speaking out. At the very least you get called names. People have been categorized, labeled and blackballed for voicing an opinion. Your successor will be given the same one-way feed as you received, just as Mike Sessions received his. I was unaware of Brown’s offer to house the new director applicant but didn’t need this specific information, I already understood this as the Brown’s modus operandi (hence the predatory one-way feed). You’re assumption was correct, that would’ve been my narrative.

      Brown’s and Guetschows have been at the helm of silencing “obstructionists”. Obstructionist is a pejorative used for those seen as against development or against somebody else’s (particular) view of progress. At the very base of this issue is the question “who is going to profit?” The entire list of concerns and what you’ve established as a bad idea are the exact things I and the community are concerned with. Those issues could be loosely defined as back room deals and shady politics, eliciting mistrust just the same. As far as whom the profiteers are, the list is short, select and predictable. This is corruption. I have estimated Guetschow to have benefitted to the tune of $200,000.00 from the 5 grant deal. I also believe it’s the tip of the iceberg that’s been exposed in this blog. The last place he should be is on a board or in any capacity to make decisions for the community. Outrage from the community should have been expressed concerning this. You are absolutely right; Council should not have approved him to the board.

      The whole Michigan Main Street, in my view was pushed down the throats of the community. The program was sold as innocuous and free; little did they know the program was going to be infused with the same mindset as those doing the pushing. I believe this to be underhanded, just as Geutschow, Brown and the rest of the gang have been operating. You said, “But you can’t blame the Browns for organizing groups, having ideas and working toward their goals.” I do blame them; their methods were more ruling class than democratic. They didn’t allow contributors or conflicting opinion, discussion or debate. Brown’s idea’s were ripped off from others and applied to benefit them. They’ve managed to divide a community even more. The question most recurring from Kay was, “how do you make someone…” Why do you think this blog popped up? The elitist agenda has to stop before alternate plans can even be considered (there are better ways to get things done). The community leaders and the community at large are charged with bringing it to an end, and focus on what’s right.

      I am stunned that Guetschow wrote your boss, I understand him writing my boss! I didn’t detect an ounce of bias against him. I’m surprised you weren’t labeled negative. What on earth made you decide to leave?

      Thanks for taking the time to provide all the information you have, I really appreciate the effort. On behalf of the community I’d like to say thanks for all your years of information. For what it’s worth, I was speaking to a gentleman from the Telegram that thinks you’re absolutely great and would have stolen you from the Advance, if he could. Not that I want to see you leave.

  4. Snoopy says:

    I was reading The Advance and see that Main Street was in town for meetings again for 2 days. I for one did not or was I made aware of any meetings with Main Street. I see that the 2nd. day was also for the general public. I got The Advance on Wednesday read the article about the meetings that was happening at the library and I noticed there wasn’t any times listed in The Advance so I went to the DDA website that they mentioned and as always the meetings were already done. One store employee that I know mentioned this to one of the Main Street people about the lack of communication again but she really didn’t care to listen. After all we are were told to put on our happy faces and not complain about anything that is wrong with Main Street. Also, Mike Sessions has been in the stores lately and it appears he forgot to tell some people that work in the stores downtown. I personally would have gone to the meeting but since I did not know about it because I got the newspaper on Wednesday night instead of Tuesday morning so I was unable to attend. At one time I was for Main Street but I have lost my interest in it because it appears there is no difference in the way the town is operating. We were told Main Street would be about all the businesses being involved and informed. We also were told Main Street would be self-supporting. I still don’t see that happening. Certain businesses downtown are only informed of certain things, and the most important things likes meetings and such they forget to inform us. I would give my 100 percent to Main Street but it appears they don’t want my input or appearance at any meetings. (That’s the way I feel they treat me) so I am not getting involved anymore. I also think it is a waste of our tax dollars. Our tax dollars are being spent paying for Mike Sessions pay check, a caterer at the last Main Street meeting, there has been money spent for meetings, and the list goes on and on. Is the money that has already been spent on Main Street going to be paid back to the tax payers? If so I would like to see the budget report when it is credited back. Also, on the budget report for 09/30/2010 appropriations for Dept. 853-DDA Number 248-853-816-000 Executive Director Main Street Manager Salary was approved for $35,000.00 plus benefits of $15,000.00 for a grand total of $50,000.00 for Mike Sessions. This is just some of the money spent on Main Street. I personally thought he was only approved for $28,000.00. Maybe I need to look up the application.

    One other note. I think that it was unethical and a conflict of interest for Mr. Brown to be allowed to be a partner with the cannery. I think there could be problems because I personally think Mr. Brown cannot profit from his investment since he was on council at the time. I have been doing some research on this. Also, is the village paying for all the bills at the cannery? Are the partners helping sharing the expenses like the thousands of dollars being paid for taxes every year? If they aren’t sharing the expenses I hope they have enough common sense to make sure when this property is sold that these bills will be deducted from the profits for the investors. If not I think an appropriate investigation needs to happen.

    Below is a list of some bills that the village has paid you might find interesting. A lot of these are for our new Main Street Program:

    1000006 MICHAEL S. SESSIONS
    STATEMENT MILEAGE 10/12/2010
    248-853-956.000 DDA MISCELLANEOUS 97.50
    STATEMENT MILEAGE 10/20/2010
    248-853-956.000 DDA MISCELLANEOUS 70.00
    VENDOR TOTAL: 167.50

    007553 MICHIGAN DOWNTOWN ASSOCIATION
    365 MEMBERSHIP FEE 09/27/2010
    248-853-956.000 DDA MISCELLANEOUS 200.00
    STATEMENT CONFERENCE- M. SESSIONS 10/22/2010
    248-853-861.000 DDA WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES 35.00
    VENDOR TOTAL: 235.00

    002932 CATERING BY LIZ
    STATEMENT MAIN STREET RECEPTION 09/28/2010
    248-853-959.000 DDA PROMOTIONAL EXPENSES 220.00
    VENDOR TOTAL: 220.00

    007690 MICHIGAN MUNICIPAL LEAGUE
    STATEMENT WORKSHOP- J. WONACOTT, M. SESSIONS 10/04/2010
    248-853-861.000 DDA WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES 70.00
    101-180-864.000 ADMIN WORKSHOPS 70.00
    140.00
    VENDOR TOTAL: 140.00

    003715 DOUBLETREE HOTEL
    STATEMENT DOWNTOWN CONF. HOTEL 09/14/2010
    248-853-861.000 DDA WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES 192.24
    VENDOR TOTAL: 192.24

    012129 PAYPAL DOWNTOWN CONFERENCE
    STATEMENT MICH. DOWNTOWN CONFERENCE REG. 08/31/2010
    248-853-861.000 DDA WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES 350.00
    VENDOR TOTAL: 350.00

    007690 MICHIGAN MUNICIPAL LEAGUE
    4097 CLASSIFIED AD- MAIN ST. MANAGER 08/30/2010
    248-853-959.000 DDA PROMOTIONAL EXPENSES 108.40
    VENDOR TOTAL: 108.40

    003370 THE DAILY TELEGRAM
    00286086 MAIN ST. RESUMES WANTED 07/25/2010
    248-853-959.000 DDA PROMOTIONAL EXPENSES 209.00
    VENDOR TOTAL: 209.00

    • Robin says:

      Snoopy, I was going to write a post about how free the Michigan Main Street program was, thanks for saving me some time. It also looks like the program and MMS/DDA and the new Director are suffering from the same affliction they’ve always suffered from; that’s either really poor communication skills or they distribute information on their need-to-know-basis evaluation. I think the community needs to re-evaluate some of the decisions made for them (for many reasons).

  5. Scott says:

    Thanks Tran for all the great stories you have provided over the last few years. I wish you still had a few more here, as I am just starting to get involved with the local politics. I knew that if there was any information I needed, I could always contact you. Thanks again

    • Robin says:

      Scott, I appreciated reading your letter to the editor, I was in agreement and respect your ‘putting yourself out there’. As a community we need to improve fairness and have some sort of ranking system that’s fair and transparent for all business in the community to be utilized by our local government. A ranking system based on core competencies not connections. Focus should also be on buying local first, the more local the higher the consideration. I thought it was incredibly ludicrous for MHSDA to not stipulate local first and second for Guetschow/Royal not to demand local first. The local government was to keep a list of all eligible contractors and the building owners were to submit for consideration other contractors they knew of or preferred. Wonacott should be able to provide all the eligibility details for his contract list.

      At the time, Guetschow as president was the issuer of the funds for the grants, the lienholder for the grants, the decision-maker for the contractor, The regulator (overseeing the rehabilitation projects and proper implementation) and the recipient of the grants.

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